Can Babies Have Seasonal Allergies?

April 14, 2024

by  | Apr 14, 2024 | Family Health

With the arrival of spring, the days are filled with warm air and sunshine, bringing the perfect opportunity for outdoor activities and open windows. However, as you enjoy this refreshing weather, you may notice that your baby seems more congested or less comfortable, leading you to wonder if they might have seasonal allergies.

What Are Seasonal Allergies?

Seasonal allergies, also known as “allergic rhinitis” or “hay fever,” occur when the body’s immune system reacts to airborne allergens like pollen, causing inflammation in the nose and surrounding mucous membranes. This common childhood allergy can cause a range of symptoms, from sneezing to itchy eyes, and may occur seasonally or throughout the year.

Allergic reactions begin when allergens trigger the release of histamines and other chemicals, which then cause irritation in nasal tissues and other affected areas. Although these allergens are generally harmless, an overactive immune system perceives them as threats and reacts aggressively.

Causes of Seasonal Allergies in Children

Seasonal allergies generally require repeated exposure to allergens, typically over a couple of seasons, before the body starts showing allergic responses. This is why children under two or three years old rarely develop seasonal allergies, though it’s possible for them to have reactions to year-round allergens like dust mites or pet dander. Factors such as nasal dryness, viral infections, and other respiratory issues can also contribute to allergy-like symptoms in younger children.

Hereditary factors and environmental conditions play a role in a child’s risk of developing allergies. Children with parents who have allergies are more likely to develop them themselves. If both parents have allergies, the risk is significantly higher.

Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies in Children

  • Symptoms of seasonal allergies in children can be mistaken for those of the common cold, making it challenging to identify the true cause. Here are some common signs to watch for:
  • Swollen or runny nose with clear discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, throat, eyes, or ears
  • Dark circles or creases under the eyes
  • Sniffling and snorting
  • Throat clearing
  • Red or watery eyes
  • Rash or hives
  • Children with year-round allergic rhinitis may also experience ear infections, snoring, or mouth breathing. For young children, it’s important to differentiate allergy symptoms from those of other conditions, as allergies can lead to ear and sinus infections if left untreated.

How to Help a Child with Allergies

If you suspect your child has allergies, you can take several steps to help reduce their symptoms and improve their comfort:

Do’s:

  • Begin giving allergy medication a couple of weeks before allergy season and continue throughout.
  • Keep allergy eye drops in the fridge for extra soothing effects.
  • Reduce exposure to allergens by keeping windows and doors closed.
  • Wash bedding and vacuum floors regularly to minimize dust mites and other allergens.
  • Use a HEPA air purifier to filter airborne particles.
  • Have your child wash their hands and face when coming in from outside and bathe at bedtime to avoid allergens in the bed.

Do Nots:

  • Avoid using indoor fans as they can circulate allergens.
  • Don’t let children play outdoors when pollen counts are high, especially during early mornings or windy days.
  • Avoid hanging laundry outside, as it can collect pollen.
  • Don’t use decongestants without consulting a pediatrician; they can cause side effects.

Approximately 15-20% of children in the U.S. have environmental allergies like allergic rhinitis. While these allergies can be challenging, taking proactive steps can help manage symptoms. If your child’s allergies become severe or lead to chronic infections, consult with a pediatrician or allergist for further guidance. By identifying triggers and implementing simple lifestyle changes, you can reduce your child’s discomfort and make the allergy season more manageable.

Pre-register at AFC Urgent Care Athens for prompt and compassionate care to get you and your little one healthy and happy this Spring.

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